Game of the Week: No. 24 South Carolina at No. 3 Florida
Remember when we were knee-deep in those top 10 showdowns just oozing with national title implications? Those were the days. OK, those days were just last weekend, but a lackluster schedule of games for Week 12 will make you wish you could fast-forward to next week's slate, which includes Texas Tech-Oklahoma. But in the meantime, let's get psyched for the week's lone Top 25 clash in Gainesville.
Of course, the way the Gators have been playing, would would bet against them setting up that de facto national semifinal with the Crimson Tide? After a one-point loss to Ole Miss on Sept. 27,
During that span, the Gators' offense has caught fire, racking up 48.6 points and 446 yards per game. The running game has piled up 234.6 yards per game during that stretch and characteristically it's come from a deep cast of ball carriers.
While the offense has come alive of late, the defense has been stifling all season. Ranking fourth nationally in scoring defense (11.8 ppg), the Gators have allowed more than 21 points just once (giving up 30 in the loss to the Rebels) and yielded a combined 29 points in the past three games.
Credit the Gamecocks' nasty defense for keeping it in contention for a New Year's Day bowl. The SEC's top-ranked unit (256.5 yards per game, third nationally) boasts the conference leader in sacks in linebacker
It may not be as venom-filled as
It nearly happened two years ago in his first trip to Florida with South Carolina. The Gators won 17-16, needing a late blocked field goal. That season, Florida went into the game 8-1 and ranked fourth in the BCS standings. This season, the Gators are 8-1 and ranked fourth in the BCS standings. Hmm.
The cards would seem to be stacked up against Spurrier, what with the Gamecocks being 0-11 all-time in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and Florida outscoring its opponents 243-57 on its current winning streak. In typical Spurrier fashion, he's inflating his opponents' ego, saying "Florida has a better team this year than they had two years ago that won the national championship." Sounds like the Ol' Ball Coach has 'em right where he wants 'em.
"They're as good as we've played. They've got 11 guys that all like to run to the football. They mix things up. They don't stay in one defense and they play hard and I think they've very well-coached and they've playing with a lot of confidence.
"They've going to load folks down in the box and make you try and throw the football and make you beat them one-on-one. I think the people that have scored against them are the ones that can do that, but you're not going to run the football very successfully against them when they're doing that.
"Norwood is the one, they move him around -- sometimes he's a linebacker and sometimes he's on the defensive line. What he is, is just a football player. He's not going to be the biggest, when you look at him physically he's not real impressive when you him compare him to the other ones. But when you watch him, he's the one that makes a lot of plays.
"I don't think there's any question [you need balance against them]. I don't think you can do either one: I don't think you can run the ball every snap or throw the ball every snap. They bring more than you can protect sometimes and you're not going to be successful. You're not going to have a quarterback left if you don't run it some. You gotta find ways to run it and you gotta find ways to throw it."